As timing would have it, there are a few days left on Izegrim Creations’ Kickstarter for Twilight Fables. That 5e project gets some attention in this piece, as does the fact that Rod Waibel has clearly marked the game as needing reader discretion.
Rod makes some time for Geek Native despite the Kickstarter project, and talking about the company, and we talk about OSR tensions and whether we need mature RPGs.
The goal of the Spotlight is to help shine the light of attention on smaller publishers, creators and RPG community members. You can nominate candidates by getting in touch, but only Patrons get to vote. Winners, like Izegrim, get a write-up like this, weekly mentions in the podcast and TTRPG news wrap-ups.
An introduction to Izegrim Creations
I spoke to Rod Waibel, the founder and owner of Izegrim Creations, and quickly found out why DriveThruRPG has this text on Izegrim Creations‘ shop page: “Sacrosanct Games is part of Izegrim Creations. Find all current and relative information at www.izegrimcreations.com“
Who are Izegrim Creations?
Izegrim Creations is a small Indie Publisher, creating RPG material primarily. I’m also a hobby woodworker, so the website does have some images of things I’ve created from wood as well. Basically, It’s a gateway to all of the creative things I like doing, hence the name “Creations.”
How did you get started?
I am a small Indie Publishing company. By small, I mean a one-person show lol. I created my first RPG in 1986, handwritten with my God-awful artwork lol.
In the late 90s, I started an actual company, Sacrosanct Games, and Indie published a few other games and supplements (most notable Altus Adventum RPG and Compact Heroes, the latter which won DieHard Gamefan’s Best New Game of the Year in 2011).
Then life happened and I had to step away for a couple years. In that time, my website lapsed and was snatched up, and thus the new rebranding to Izegrim Creations.
In the past couple of years, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to spend a lot of time getting back to creating things.
What have you learned on the way?
Oh, so much. Mostly about keeping your ego in check.
If you’re creating something for yourself, then go wild and do what you want. If you want to create something in hopes others will play it, be prepared to leave your favorite rules on the cutting room floor. I’ve learned the importance of multiple editors. Not just one. They are worth every penny.
And I’ve learned the importance of relationships. It bothers me every time I hear how freelancers get burned, or how customers don’t get what they pay for. I refuse to be like that. Of course with stuff about Apotheosis Studios going around the news, and the…mess with nuTSR and WotC, it’s even more important that I treat freelancers and customers with respect. I’ve built some great relationships with freelancers over the years. Some (like the very talented and overall great guy, Eric Lofgren) for more than 20 years now. I am blessed to have those relationships. Those are all critical lessons I’ve learned, but the biggest is to have fun doing the work.
Writing and creating is hard work. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it, because it will show in the product. Creative endeavors are labors of love, and it shows.
What do you think you’re best known for?
Currently? I don’t think I’m really known for anything lol. I’m a small-time company. Perhaps the most recent project, Chromatic Dungeons, is what’s in most peoples’ minds now.
What would you like to be best known for?
I would like to be known as a company that puts out good quality material that people enjoy playing, and as a company that treats customers and freelancers well and with respect.
What makes a good RPG product?
I mentioned this above, but the most important thing is that the writer enjoys writing it. The quality will show. This is a very subjective question, so I guess the other metric if something is good or not is if people enjoy playing it. That’s the point of a game, right?
The Kickstarter is still live and offers more than 200 creatures, new PC options and artefacts. There’s an adventure path campaign and folklore inspiration in the proposed book.[Back Twilight Fables]
What are Twilight Fables?
Twilight Fables brings the original European folklore and fables into the 5e (and now OSR) game. Most monsters were based on folklore since the game was created in 1974, but those were interpretations of the writer, and those interpretations have changed to fit pop culture attitudes since. For example, kobolds, kelpies, and hobgoblins from folklore are nothing like we know from current RPGs. TF brings that lore back into the game for those who find that appealing. Think more Brothers Grimm and much less Disney.
You’ve noted reader discretion is advised for Twilight Fables? Is it going to be that, er, grim?
Yes. Much of the original folklore was dark and depressing, with issues of child abuse, sexism, ableism, and consent issues coming up often.
You’d be surprised at how many stories come down to a child being kidnapped or killed because they were used as cautionary tales back then for children to avoid that river or that dark forest. I did my very best to be respectful of the modern reader while keeping true to the folklore as much as possible.
I have an indicator icon in those places where a potential triggering event might be listed (like under the Faun entry for example, for consent issues). At the front, I have a guideline on how to handle potentially troubling issues at your game table. While I think there is great value and a lot of exciting stories to tell by using original folklore, I want to be very clear I am not endorsing any of those discriminatory and violent themes.
Mature RPGs and OSR pushback
Rod was tolerant to let me explore a little way down this rabbit hole. I found it intriguing that Izegrim was going from “an OSR clone meant to emulate the feel of the 70s/80s era gaming experience while applying modern sensibilities and game design philosophies” to “Reader discretion is advised”.
As we’ll find, there are contradictions from some quarters of the RPG that Rod has encountered. There’s none from doing both Twilight Fables and Chromatic Dungeons, though.
Do you think there’s much market demand for mature RPGs?
I think there is a decent market. Not as large as “fun” and “bright” RPGs, judging by current trends. Our hobby is growing by leaps and bounds, reaching all-time highs in the number of people playing RPGs. Who knows, if the 90s come back around again, there will be a huge market for a grim RPG lol. (My fellow older gamers will get that reference).
Do the rulebooks need emotionally challenging or shocking content to nudge gamers towards mature scenarios, or is this something that gaming groups can supply themselves?
I think individual tables can make that decision. I don’t think people who want a more mature game need rules for that, as they create them themselves.
I want to be clear though, that Twilight Fables is not designed to play mature scenarios or to have adult-only gamers. There is zero graphic description of sexual encounters or anything like that. It’s only got the advisory warning because some of the originating folklore dealt with some heavy issues, and players should be advised of that beforehand.
The book is not trying to be “edgy” or any of that. There is also a lot of whimsy in the book (like the fey dragons) because there was a lot of whimsy in original folklore. The only intent of the book is to emulate that historical folklore and mythology. Think of it like this. A book focusing on Greek mythology would have mature themes in it but isn’t necessarily designed to be adult-only.
What did you learn from Chromatic Dungeons?
Get multiple editors. Seriously. We’re all only human, and once it went to the larger customer base, some of those minor grammar issues were found that passed myself and the editor.
I recall that Chromatic Dungeons wanted the OSR feel without some bad vibe around OSR. Is that right? Did you find any pushback from that from the tabletop RPG community?
From the overall community, not much pushback. From some of the OSR crowd? Yeah, I got a lot of feedback. Some were supportive, many were not. But that’s OK. I expected that.
As an old-school gamer myself, having started in 1981 and who thinks AD&D is still one of my favorite versions of all time, I think many of my fellow “grognards” are viewing history through rose-colored glasses and delve into tribalism too quickly. While that’s true of fans from every edition (fan is short for fanatic after all), there is an issue within the OSR that is exclusionary and quite frankly willfully obtuse and outright hypocritical.
I recall one person saying how there is no need to show diversity in your art because the game has always been welcoming, and in the very next sentence said how Chromatic Dungeons wasn’t for him because there wasn’t a white male like him on the front cover. Stew on that for a sec.
It’s folks who think of themselves as stewards or spokesmen of the OSR saying things like “Keep politics at the door, everyone is welcome!” while at the same time reacting to any inclusion of someone not cis or white by saying “stop forcing woke garbage down our throat!” You can’t say everyone is welcome and keep politics at the door, while also saying anyone not cis or white is inherently political. Those are contradictory statements.
I thought Chromatic Dungeons was needed when I started it 2 years ago. After the past year, I’m even more sure of it now. I love that style of gaming, and I want to share it with others who might have felt excluded by the original rules presentation. And quite frankly, that sort of bigotry I’m hearing now has no place in gaming.
The future of Izegrim Creations
Readers will know that I always try and push into the future in RPG Publisher Spotlight articles. These are, after all, a rare chance to talk to the people driving studios forward.
It’s a mixed success here, though, sorry to say.
Twilight Fables has smashed its funding goal. What next?
Well, I’m hoping to hit the $50,000 stretch goal, because that allows me to use offset printing, which means glossy pages, gilded pages, and other goodies I can’t do with POD (Print on Demand). POD is good quality; I’ve already gotten a few proof copies of the book and was impressed. But offset allows me to put out a book that rivals WoTC and the other big players. Getting there is possible, but it will be a challenge with only a week left.
When this project is done, and after a month or two is available to the general public, there are a few other projects I might work on. But those are secret for now 😉
- Izegrim Creations’ website.
- Izegrim Creations on Kickstarter.
- Izegrim Creations on Facebook.
- Izegrim Creations on Twitter.
- Izegrim Creations on DriveThruRPG.
Latest Izegrim Creations products
Izegrim Creations use DriveThruRPG to publish, and we can use that date-field enhanced catalogue to sort for recent changes.
- 22nd February 2022: The Gnoll Sage Issue 8: Arthurian Legends
- 6th December 2021: The Gnoll Sage Issue 7: Ecology of the Owlbear
- 10th November 2021: The Gnoll Sage Issue 6: The Commander
- 1st October 2021: The Gnoll Sage Issue 5: Ecology of the Orc
- 1st October 2021: The Gnoll Sage Issue 4: Psionist
Thanks for reading! Why not leave a comment below? Alternatively, if you're feeling restless you can teleport to a random article with this link!